The IRC in 2012: the spectrum of hope
December 30, 2012 by George Rupp
|Women in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, celebrate the first successful share-out of their village savings group. Groups like this one organize weekly meetings, where women save in the form of buying shares. Photo: Daniela Greco/IRC|
Two snapshots of our work in Congo, from two provinces where civil war has raged for more than a dozen years, show the spectrum of hope that can emerge from that commitment.
In North Kivu, hundreds of thousands of displaced people face the daily threat of infectious diseases, sexual violence, and breakdowns in the rudimentary health care system. Our supremely dedicated teams provide emergency assistance, shelter, medical care for victims of sexual assault, and medicine to slow the rate of cholera.
Our North Kivu staff members work heroically in highly dangerous conditions, comforting tens of thousands of children and adults who want nothing more than peace and security. And we can deploy our staff there because of the generosity of IRC supporters.
In South Kivu, where conditions are more stable, the IRC is able to promote long-term recovery. For example, we have shown women how to establish 67 village savings and loan associations funded by a dynamic membership of 900 investors. As a result, once-destitute women are opening small businesses, acquiring land, raising animals, and paying household expenses.
One of those women is named Chantal. A year ago, at a savings-and-loan organizing session in her village, she learned that a small weekly deposit, pooled with those of her neighbors, would form a growing, interest-earning fund. A few weeks ago, Chantal joined her fellow investors for the fund’s first “share-out.” To her amazement, she received 80,000 Congolese francs (about $87), with which she plans to buy a goat, start a small business, and pay her children’s school fees.
The South Kivu savings and loan program mirrors similarly successful projects in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda that we have launched with the support of IRC donors.
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